The plan is divided into four major areas, including students, teachers and administrators, school systems and school support professionals. The state Board of Education is still awaiting approval by the U.S. Department of Education to grant a waiver for the 2014 NCLB mandate.
“It addresses four broad areas that all have measurable goals and objectives that will guide the work of the board and state department for the next eight years,” Bice told the Alabama School Journal in August. “The waiver applies to a central part of this plan, and that is to move assessment to a more balanced and meaningful system that focuses on the day-to-day instruction in the classroom rather than one single test in the spring.”
Phasing away from AYP
Rhonda Stringham, executive director of curriculum for Limestone, said AYP in Alabama this year is being recorded but there’s no longer any apprehension about the unpopular accountability report.
“We’re only going to give AYP one more year, and then the state education department is going to do the testing,” she said. “The lame-duck part of it is what Alabama is using as Annual Yearly Progress, which is the (Alabama Reading and Math Test) for grades 3-8, and the graduation exam. All of this is going to be phased out.”
Stringham attended a July professional development conference featuring state Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice as the keynote speaker, and she said he urged teachers to focus on energizing students and teaching fundamental lessons.
“He told the teachers to focus on teaching the standards. I was actually present last July when Dr. Bice said not to worry about AYP anymore, and to just teach kids what they need to know,” Stringham said. “Dinosaurs are fun but students need to know how to read, write good paragraphs and how to be analytical. We just need to teach them well, and teach them in a way they love. We want to spark students, and get them excited about learning.”